Archive for June 2012

Neal’s Yard, aka “The Cathedral of Cheese”

We always seem to be on a  “quest” to find something or other when on vacation!

Not too long ago we made our first trip to England, renting an apartment in London for a week.

Being long time fans/customers of Les Amis du Fromage & Benton Bros. here in Vancouver, we knew about and had tasted some of the cheeses they bring in from Neal’s Yard in London.

Sooo….the mission; to find Neal’s Yard. There are two locations, one in Covent Garden and the other at Borough Market. Off to Covent Garden we go. As usual we have no map, just a general address. These quests often turn out to be more challenging than you can imagine. Finally, after marching uphill for some time past God knows what (because when on a quest you only have one thing in mind), we find the Holy Grail of cheeses.

There is nothing like this in Vancouver! Cheeses stacked up almost to the ceiling, samples being provided off the end of a knife which seems a lot more fun than those little pieces of paper we get samples on here. They had a person stationed outside on the street giving out samples. Being able to taste and buy artisanal English cheeses, made by local farmers, what a wonderful treat! Cheeses with names like “Lancashire Poacher” & “Isle of Mull”.  Click  here to check out Neal’s Yard website.

We discovered that some of the cheeses were available at Waitrose market not far from where we were staying. Oh boy…I can’t remember eating that much cheese in a week in my lifetime! There were cheese omelets, cheese and salad for a quick dinner, cheese and toast for breakfast. At the end of the week, there were some uneaten cheeses that we had to abandon, because we could not take them with us. Sad! Hopefully the owner of the apartment enjoyed them. No doubt, they would have been confiscated by security at Heathrow anyway!

If you would like to find some great cheeses go to my My Source List.

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A List Of Conversions

When my Husband and I cook together, he is always asking me for conversions.  These are the ones we use all the time.

Having a scale is VERY helpful, especially when measuring butter.  I really hate trying to measure it into a measuring cup.  I simply put a small piece of wax paper on the scale and weigh out what I need!  I have used a scale for years and it makes my life so much easier with a lot less clean up afterwards.

1 cup = 16 Tbsp.
¾ cup = 12 Tbsp.
½ cup = 8 Tbsp.
1/3 cup = 5 Tbsp. + ½ tsp.
¼ cup = 4 Tbsp.
1 cup = 8 oz.
¾ cup = 6 oz.
½ cup = 4 oz.
¼ cup = 2 oz.
1 Tbsp. butter = ½ oz.
1 Tbsp. = 3 tsp.

Some Of Our Favourite Sources

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Mary’s Spaghetti Sauce

The first time I tasted Mary’s spaghetti sauce, I was hooked; I think I was 10. Slightly spicy, aromatic with cloves and cinnamon, the sweetness of tomatoes, a hit of cayenne pepper, rich with chunks of meat that benefited from being cooked for a number of hours until they fell apart. Totally fabulous! She had two sisters-in-law of Italian heritage and the original recipe came from one or the other or perhaps a combination of both!

Spaghetti at our house was a bit unusual. Mom made meatballs (they were good), browned them & put them in a sauce that began by sautéing onions in the pan the meatballs were browned in, then adding canned tomato soup and some milk to thin it. She then added the meatballs and simmered it all together for a while. No herbs, no garlic (Dad always said he hated garlic so we never cooked with it).  Shame!

Once I had sampled Mary’s spaghetti with meat sauce I asked for the recipe. I then asked my Mom if I could make it. This was the very beginning of my love affair with pasta. Over the years I have changed it up a bit, perhaps for the better or not!

If you want to make this recipe please go to Mary’s Spaghetti with Meat Sauce.


My mom celebrated her 91st birthday a while ago and it got me thinking about things.

“Take my hand and grow young with me; don’t rush, don’t sleep; be a beginner; light the candles; keep the fire; dare to love someone; tell yourself the truth; stay inside the rapture.” – Marlena de Blasi, “A Thousand Days in Tuscany”

That quote touched my heart when I read the book. I wish that I could take my mom’s hand and we could grow young together.

Mom realized very early on that I, her eldest, was very interested in learning how to bake. She nurtured this interest, which developed into a lifelong passion, allowing me to create goodies for our family in the beginning and then moving on to making meals for the six of us.

On weekends, when my mom, an avid gardener, would rather spend her time in the garden than cooking, I was frequently given the “task” of preparing dinner for the family. That was fun; having the guinea pigs right there. What more could a budding chef want?

One of our favorite meals were cabbage rolls and being Russian, she made really good ones, although there were some of us that only liked the filling! One Sunday she explained to me how to make them before she headed into the garden for the afternoon. “No problem, just call if you have any questions” she said. OK, so I am 13 and I have a pretty good idea of what to do. They turned out great I thought. Over the years the recipe was adapted and they are even better now, I think.

One day, while standing in line at the Granville Island farmers market, an older lady in front of me was choosing cabbages, so naturally I asked if she was making cabbage rolls. “Yes, she was”. So, of course we began sharing our recipes and stories.

This encounter brings me to “The Last Cabbage Roll” and got me thinking about how us cabbage roll makers are getting older and may not have passed on the secrets of cabbage roll making and other treasures from our past. So… we come to the passing of the torch and sharing some of my treasures, with the hope that you will make them once in a while. Think of our mothers when you do.

**If you would like to make this recipe, please go to Phyllis’ Cabbage Rolls.

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